Chambers are always looking for exciting non-dues revenue ideas, right?But how many events can you hold? There’s just so much work behind them and sometimes the headache simply isn’t worth the return.
So what is?
How about leaving it all behind and getting away on an exciting trip? Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?
How about if that trip didn’t quite leave everything behind but did become a source of non-dues revenue for your chamber?
Would that be worth it?
Keep reading and we’ll share with you:
- whether a chamber trip is worth the effort
- best practices in organizing a chamber trip
- a free download with tons of tips for how to market the trip
Are you ready to learn more about the possibilities behind chamber trips?
Is Hosting a Chamber Trip
Worth the Effort for the Non-Dues Revenue?
Hosting a chamber trip is a popular way to create an opportunity for non-dues revenue but is it worth the effort?
What goes into the organization of the trip, what will you need to do to prepare for it, and how does it generate money for the chamber?
Organizing a Chamber Trip: Who Should Plan It?
Most chambers that decide to organize travel do so with the help of a third-party tour operator. While this might not be the least expensive approach, it certainly saves a lot of headaches. Tour operators know the area, often have local connections, and have tried-and-true itineraries.
They’re also prepared with last-minute substitutions should something go awry with the planning (like a fire at the hotel the week before you arrive). A tour operator can take care of all of those concerns for you.
The one downside to using an operator is that you’ll pay for the privilege, and they often receive commissions from the stops they make. Many markets place a lot of pressure on chamber travelers to buy and your tour operator may share that desire because they may receive a portion in return. Before selecting a tour operator you want to make sure you have some clear insight into how they select venues, stops, activities, etc.
If there’s something you think is essential to your travel experience, a stop you want to make or an experience that’s important to you, share it with the operator. Some are better at customized trips than others so make sure you know how open they are to giving you the ability to shape the schedule to some degree.
If you don’t want to go through a tour operator, but you don’t want to do all of the research and planning yourself, you can work with a sister city chamber to make arrangements or ask for suggestions on where to go, when, and where to stay. While this may provide a less expensive option with fewer crowded tourist destinations on the itinerary, you will be coordinating a trip for many people.
It will take a lot more work on your part, not come with any insurance or guarantees from a larger company with in-country connections, and you’ll need to really rely on the relationship with the local chamber of commerce and we all know how busy they are.
Chamber Trip Expectations and Planning Tips
Here’s what you can expect and things you should make clear with travelers when planning a chamber trip.
- Travelers will be expected to pay a deposit to hold their spot. Spots should be limited and hopefully, they’ll sell out so make sure you get a portion of money upfront. Your operator may dictate this amount but if not, it should be enough to make them reconsider giving up the spot.
- If someone does need to cancel, you can hold some of the deposit. The closer it is to ticketing or takeoff, the more you can hold. But make sure you communicate your refund policies up front and in writing.
- The remainder should be paid on the day that tickets are issued. Often tour operators will do this closer to date than when you originally start planning. They do this to ensure they are able to secure the best airfare. Generally, they set the cost ahead of time so their ticket haggling is not something that affects your price.
- If you’re going through a tour group, about one month before take off you’ll be provided with the final itinerary, flight info, and hotel contact information. Keep this on you at all times and share it with other travelers.
- Make arrangements for how you will get to and from the airport. Will the chamber provide a bus or is transportation on their own?
- Communicate any luggage restrictions ahead of time. Generally, there is a piece and weight limit.
- Find out how frequent flyer miles will be counted. Often, they will not be applied if you’re using a tour operator. This may make some travelers angry as you may be flying a great distance on the trip. Encourage them to speak to the airline representative directly upon check-in. You never know if someone will allow them to apply it.
- Remind your group that they will likely need adapters for their electronics and they will probably want to talk to their cell phone service providers as well about how international charges and data are counted. This is especially important if your group is comprised of some first-time travelers.
- Consider talking to them about tap water if you’re visiting a country where a boil advisory is suggested. Remind them this is not just drinking straight water but doing things like eating salads made up of lettuce and vegetables washed in the local water as well.
- Ask your organizer about business meeting opportunities, if your group is interested. Have them fill out a form that details the types of businesses they’d like to meet with and talk to the tour operator about it ahead of time.
- Make it clear how tips will be paid. Are they included in the trip total? Are they a la carte? Or do you have a preset amount that is levied to the final bill?
- Find out about vaccinations that may be required. Encourage travelers to check with their personal physicians.
- Most costs for trips are for double occupancy. Single travelers usually pay a slightly higher price for a private room or they can be paired up with someone.
- Detail exactly what is included from meals to attractions, the type of accommodations (from a star perspective since when you are marketing the trip you will probably not have a specific hotel assigned yet).
- Consider offering side trips or VIP experiences for additional fees. Your tour operator can make suggestions on this but these are easy upgrades that can
bringin more revenue opportunities.
How to Make Money (for Non-dues Revenue)
Most chamber travel companies provide the chambers with a percentage on each trip sold or a flat fee based on each participant. It’s an excellent source of non-dues revenue, but only if you get people to attend who aren’t related to you. This means marketing and lots of it. Most tour companies will have some marketing collaterals on the trip itself, but you have to drive traffic to your site to get your members or community to see it.
Even if you select a tour operator to help coordinate the trip, they won’t be handling a lot of the marketing for you. They may provide some but don’t rely on just that. You’ll need more if you want to be successful.
But who has the time to market a trip?
Don’t worry. We have some ideas.
A Megalist of Marketing Ideas <Free Download>
Chamber trips are an excellent source of non-dues revenue, not to mention a chance to increase business opportunities for your community and deepen business relationships. Sadly, some chamber trips aren’t as successful as they could be because of missed marketing opportunities.
How many of your chamber trips’ attendees have turned out being you and your friends with only a handful of people who are really exploring the economic possibilities?
Don’t let that happen.
With social media, there are hundreds of ways to build a following and interest in your next chamber trip. Here are a few things you should know.
Marketing your trip doesn’t require a lot of money. It merely requires the time to nurture your audience and get people talking. A trip is a very visual experience. Use pictures for a large part of your marketing. Your tour company can help you with that. You can also share pictures from previous trips to show people these aren’t stodgy business undertakings. There’s time for fun and exploration too.
Use a strategy for social media. Don’t randomly slap pictures of your trip on social media. Be strategic about it. Tag others, as appropriate. Employ social media ads to build a larger following. With Facebook targeting, you can get in front of people who like to travel and so are more likely to join you. Don’t waste your time casting wide nets. When it comes to chamber travel, you’re looking for a small niche of people in or around your community.
Marketing your chamber business trip is not something that starts a few weeks before you need reservations. Think of trip marketing as something you’ll always be doing. Marketing before the trip, during the trip, and afterward.
If you keep the buzz going year round, your recruitment will be a cinch and you’ll have that waitlist you’ve dreamed of.
Want to know how you can improve your chamber trip marketing for next to nothing?